For the third time, a superior court judge has weighed in on the question whether managers of limited liability companies can be held personally liable for the severe penalties provided by the Massachusetts Wage Act. Mark the score now as two to one in favor of such liability. On December 17, 2012, a Middlesex County Superior Court judge ruled that the Act’s failure to reference LLC managers like it corporate presidents and treasurers does not absolve those managers of personal liability.
“The touchstone of section 149 liability remains that ‘[e]very person having employees in his service’ can be liable. I decline, therefore, to rule that there can be no individual liability in the limited liabiliy corporation setting as a matter of law,” wrote Justice Paul Wilson. Instead, the court concluded, claims of individual liability against LLC managers can proceed if those managers have responsibilities that are functionally equivalent to those typically performed by corporate presidents and treasurers. The court went on to conclude that a plaintiff’s claim against a high-ranking manager stated a plausible claim while one against his report did not, despite the fact that the latter individual was in charge of the company’s Massachusetts operations and supervised the employee at issue. [Read more…]